One group of Denver World Youth Day pilgrims retraced Saint John Paul II’s footsteps in Denver before heading off to Krakow…literally.
During the week prior to leaving for World Youth Day, Father Anthony Arinello of the Community of the Beatitudes led a group of young adult pilgrims from all over the country on a local pilgrimage to the sites that Saint John Paul II visited while he was here for World Youth Day in 1993. From walking to Regis University to Mass at Camp St. Malo to camping out at Cherry Creek State Park, the pilgrims were reminded of the saint’s presence here in Denver before leaving to his homeland of Poland for this year’s World Youth Day in Krakow, which is expected to draw two million pilgrims from all over the globe.
“John Paul II was such an inspiration to my vocational discernment, and especially my falling in love with the Church,” Father Arinello said. “I really want to give these young people witnesses of courage and fullness of life. The theme of World Youth Day 1993 is something we try to make a fundamental element of [the Community of the Beatitudes’] vocations ministry for young people.”
In his work as a chaplain both for the Colorado School of Mines and the Fellowship of Catholic Students summer training, Father Arinello has built connections with young adults from all over the country, which is how he assembled this particular group of pilgrims traveling with him to World Youth Day. He said that step one is getting in touch with young people, and step two is to “lure them with a carrot,” such as this trip to World Youth Day.
“What they appreciate most along the way is to be able to worship as one body and to be able to live in community, like a little family,” he said of the pilgrims’ experience.
Once they reach Europe, Father Arinello and his group of pilgrims will join other Beatitudes communities from all over the world and make the trek to World Youth Day with them.
Becca Rodeheffer is one of the pilgrims with the Community of the Beatitudes going to World Youth Day. A student at the University of Denver, she said that in retracing Saint John Paul II’s steps in Denver, it hit her that a large contributing factor to the strength of the Denver Catholic community is because he visited the Mile High City in 1993, and local Catholics are still reaping the fruits from it.
“A saint was literally here,” she said. “I feel like it’s not bragged about enough. It’s a huge deal. Being from Denver, I get to experience the fruits of that. It’s so amazing how strong our Catholic community is here.”
Rodeheffer is excited to continue retracing Saint John Paul II’s steps in Poland on the road to World Youth Day, but most of all, she’s excited to be traveling with a group of people who share a common love for the Lord and building a community with them.
“In the past few days, I’ve been loving to get to know all of the pilgrims who are here,” she said. “They’re so inspiring. Their prayer life is really inspiring for me, and I’m really looking forward to building community with them and sharing stories and experiences together.”
The Beatitudes World Youth Day pilgrims are posting pilgrimage updates at http://beatitudeswyd.wix.com